Heraclitus, On the Universe

LCL 150: 470-471

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The order of the fragments is that of Bywater.

I. Οὐκ ἐμεῦ ἀλλὰ τοῦ λόγου ἀκούσαντας 2ὁμολογέειν σοφόν ἐστι, ἓν πάντα εἶναι.

II. Τοῦ δὲ λόγου τοῦδ᾿ ἐόντος αἰεὶ ἀξύνετοι γίνονται ἄνθρωποι καὶ πρόσθεν ἢ ἀκοῦσαι καὶ ἀκούσαντες τὸ πρῶτον. γινομένων γὰρ πάντων κατὰ τὸν λόγον τόνδε ἀπείροισι ἐοίκασι πειρώμενοι καὶ ἐπέων καὶ ἔργων τοιουτέων ὁκοίων ἐγὼ διηγεῦμαι, διαιρέων ἕκαστον κατὰ φύσιν καὶ φράζων ὅκως ἔχει. τοὺς δὲ ἄλλους ἀνθρώπους λανθάνει ὁκόσα ἐγερθέντες ποιέουσι, ὅκωσπερ 9ὁκόσα εὕδοντες ἐπιλανθάνονται.

  • IHippolytus Ref. Haer. ix. 9: Ἡράκλειτος μὲν οὖν <ἕν> φησιν εἶναι τὸ πᾶν, διαιρετὸν ἀδιαίρετον, γενητὸν ἀγένητον, θνητὸν ἀθάνατον, λόγον αἰῶνα, πατέρα υἱόν, θεὸν δίκαιον. Οὐκ ἐμοῦ ἀλλὰ τοῦ δόγματος ἀκούσαντας ὁμολογεῖν σοφόν ἐστιν, ἓν πάντα εἰδέναι, ὁ Ἡράκλειτός φησι· καὶ ὅτι τοῦτο οὐκ ἴσασι πάντες οὐδὲ ὁμολογοῦσιν, ἐπιμέμφεται ὧδέ πως· Οὐ ξυνίασιν ὅκως διαφερόμενον ἑωυτῷ ὁμολογέει· παλίντροπος ἁρμονίη ὅκωσπερ τόξου καὶ λύρης. λόγου is a conjecture of Bernays, εἶναι a conjecture of Miller. Bergk would reconstruct thus: δίκαιον οὐκ ἐμοῦ ἀλλὰ τοῦ δόγματος ἀκούσαντας ὁμολογέειν ὅτι ἓν τὸ σοφόν ἐστιν, ἓν πάντα εἰδέναι. The conjectures in the text do not arouse any strong confidence, though δόγματος might well be a gloss on λόγου. But if εἶναι be correct, why should it have been corrupted to εἰδέναι? I am on the whole inclined to think that Bergk’s restoration is nearer to the actual words of Heracleitus. Hipp. Ref. Haer. ix. 9; Aristotle Rhetoric iii. 5; Sextus Empiricus adversus Mathematicos vii. 132; Clement of Alex. Strom. v. 14, p. 716; Eusebius Praep. Εn. xiii 13, p. 680. The MSS. (except those of Sextus) read τοῦ δεόντος.

On the Universe

Heracleitus on the Universe

I. It is wise to listen, not to me but to the Word, and to confess that all things are one.

For λόγος see Heinze, Lehre vom Logos, 1873; Zeller, i. 630; Aall, Gesch. d. Logosidee 1896. “All things are one” because they are all resolved into fire and come from fire.

II. This Word, which is ever true, men prove as incapable of understanding when they hear it for the first time as before they have heard it at all. For although all things happen in accordance with this Word, men seem as though they had no experience thereof, when they make experiment with such words and works as I relate, dividing each thing according to its nature and setting forth how it really is. The rest of men know not what they do when awake, just as they forget what they do when asleep.

Aristotle was in doubt whether αἰεὶ should be taken with ἐόντος or with ἀξύνετοι γίνονται. See Rhetoric, III. 5, 1407, b 14. ἐόντος means “true” in Ionic with words like λόγος. See Burnet, E. G. Ph. note on Fragment II. I have tried in my translation to bring out the play on words in ἀπείροισι ἐοίκασι πειρώμενοι.

DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.heracleitus_philospher-universe.1931